Farage does not want ‘Tory poison’ in his party as he plans Reform’s path to power

Nigel Farage has decided he will not try to win over any current or former Tory MPs and has ditched his plans to take over the Conservative Party.

In an interview with The Independent, the leader of Reform UK and newly elected MP for Clacton, said he already has a plan to win the next general election in 2029.

He believes “there is no love” for Keir Starmer’s new Labour government but has admitted his own ambitions for the election were thwarted by the number of racist remarks from his party’s candidates.

Instead, he believes the Tories have left “a huge vacuum” that Reform can fill as they begin trying to rebuild from the wreckage and decide who will replace Rishi Sunak over the next few months.

Mr Farage was speaking as he joined fans of East Thurrock Community Football Club with James McMurdock, who was the fifth Reform MP to be confirmed, for a celebratory drink in a constituency that his party has snatched from the Tories.

Farage speaks to ‘The Independent’ in Stanford-le-Hope, Essex (Stuart Mitchell)
Farage speaks to ‘The Independent’ in Stanford-le-Hope, Essex (Stuart Mitchell)

Even as he spoke to The Independent, the first political defector came up to join his party at the bar at the football club. Alex Anderson, an independent councillor in Thurrock had been a Tory until March and said: “I am fed up of their lies.”

Mr Farage revealed that since the election more than one new member a minute had joined Reform with the number standing at 2,089 new members at the time of speaking to him.

The Reform leader said: “I was reflecting on everything at 4am this morning with a cup of tea and thinking how best we can go forward now.

“There is no doubt that the racism issues hurt us a lot in the last few days of the election and cost us a lot of seats.”

Farage with new Reform MP James McMurdock (PA)
Farage with new Reform MP James McMurdock (PA)

He said they could have won 25 seats rather than five and admits that he has a problem to sort out.

“I don’t want racism or sectarianism in my party and we will be sorting out candidate selection,” he confirmed. “We do not want to have this problem again.

“If we had got 25 we wouldn’t have been entirely sure who or what we got. But we have five very solid, sensible people who will be able to really push on and make the case for Reform. There will be no embarrassments and we have the foothold we needed.”

But he also made it clear that he will not be approaching any of the former Tory MPs his party ensured were turfed out of office or any of the ones who had lucky escapes and were re-elected.

“They can join us if they want but we don’t need them and won’t be chasing them. We don’t really need the poison they will bring.”

He noted that the Tory MPs “can’t decide if they like Reform, like me or think I am the devil. They are completely split down the middle. They say it is a broad church but it is one without a common faith”.

He added: “The civil war [among Tories] has already begun and I think it is best to leave them to it.”

His rejection of Tory MPs past may be a disappointment to people like Andrea Jenkyns and Marco Longhi who lost their seats but had been wooed by Reform prior to the election. It is also a message to leadership hopefuls like Priti Patel or Suella Braverman who may hope to bring the right of politics together.

Mr Farage insists that the flirtation of taking over the Conservative Party or being Tory leader is now “not on my wish list” and he has different plans to replace the Tories altogether.

Mr Farage also believes that Labour is “vulnerable” even with a huge majority.

“There is no love for them, no feeling of jubilation. We thought they would get at least 40 per cent of the vote, we were astonished they only got a third of the vote share.

“It’s going to get difficult for [Keir] Starmer very quickly. The weather is bad today so the small boats are not coming over but once the sun is out they will be coming in their thousands.”

Mr Farage already has his plans in place and that is not worrying about parliamentary protocol.

When told that a new cabinet minister had said he would “disappear in parliament” and barely get any time, Mr Farage laughed.

He said: “It is not about parliament, it is about going out to the country and speaking to ordinary people. We will be talking this out on the airwaves and social media. This is just the beginning.”

He has already worked out his game plan, he claims.

“I sat down with my cup of tea and decided what our priorities are going to be. I’m very interested in the Welsh [Senedd] elections [in 2026]. We came second in a lot of seats there and I think we could make strides in Wales.

“I’m looking at the Scottish parliament as well where we polled 8 per cent with just paper candidates. You only need 5 per cent to get seats in the Scottish parliament.”

But the county council elections in England are his first target with a belief that with proper infrastructure and a good candidates list the party could be winning hundreds of seats and even potentially getting control.

With two MPs in Essex, including himself, and a number of near misses in the county, he added: “I think Essex County Council will be very interesting indeed next year.”